According to Douglas Battista, tariffs have been present in the United States since colonial times. The U.S. Congress passed the Tariff of 1789 as a way to help stabilize the economy after the American Revolution. The act states that the monies collected were for the encouragement and protection of local manufacturers and to help discharge US debt.
Douglas Battista explains that tariffs have historically played a major role in foreign trade policies. From between 1789 in 1914, the year after the federal income tax was initiated, tariffs were the major source of finance for the government. During this time, the two major political parties, the Republican/Whigs and Democrats feverishly debated what, exactly, tariffs should be used to fund. The Republican party favored imposing higher tariffs in an effort to encourage American industry while the Democrats simply wanted to cover the operational costs associated with government.